If you join us for worship at GBRPC, you will notice that our mode of worship is distinct from most Reformed and Evangelical Churches. As a member of the RPCNA, we hold to what is called “exclusive psalmody” - meaning that we sing the Psalms exclusively - and we sing the Psalms “acapella,” or without musical accompaniment. Historically, this was the mode of worship of the Post-Apostolic Church, or the Church of the first few Centuries; as well as the mode of worship in the majority of the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches in the first few centuries after the Reformation. In other words, while our mode of worship is unique, it is not reactionary or innovative. In fact, in Latin, the word “acapella” simply means to sing “as in the chapel,” as this was the historic form of worship used by the Church while in sacred assembly.
Our practice of acapella Exclusive Psalmody arises from what is termed “The Regulative Principle.” The Regulative Principle of Worship teaches that we can only worship God as a congregation in the way that He has commanded. This means that we must avoid not only what is forbidden by Scripture, but that the leadership of the Church can only prescribe elements of worship that appear in Scripture as direct commands or as consistent examples.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism ties this principle of worship to the Second Commandment, when it says in Q/A 51 “the second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in His Word.” In other words, just as we are not to worship God through images made by human hands, the prohibition against idolatry also extends to any mode of worship that arises from human invention. This principle can be observed throughout both the Old and New Testaments (See Lev 10:1-3; Dt. 12:28-32; Mk 7:1-13; Jn. 4:20-24; Col. 2:20-23). Therefore finding no command in Scripture to compose or sing songs of human composition, we sing only the Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs of David, which the Apostles commanded the early Church to sing (See Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Jms. 5:13; Mt. 26:30). Likewise, as the use of musical instruments were conjoined to the Temple sacrifices of the Old Covenant, which have now passed away, and seeing no command in the New Testament to use instruments in worship - we sing acapella, or with our voices alone (See 2 Chronicles 29:25-30; with Heb. 7:11; Eph. 5:19; Col 3:16).
While we know that Christians can be richly blessed by hymns and contemporary Christian music, within formal worship we hold firmly to the historic practice of the Church as outline above. We warmly invite you to join with us each Sunday, as we worship God in “Spirit and in Truth,” singing the very songs that Jesus sung in union with Him as our Risen King.
Being a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North American we subscribe fully to the Westminster Standards, as well as the Reformed Presbyterian Testimony, which is our denomination’s contemporary application of the Westminster Standards to modern life.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Westminster Larger Catechism
The RPCNA Constitution/Testimony